09/25/17 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: BEHIND THE ‘EVERYBODY OUT’ ORDER AT 2100 MEMORIAL “I’ve volunteered there and can tell you the entire ‘sub-basement’ electrical/fire control room was completely submerged. I assume that entities receiving government rent subsidies must meet current NEC (nat’l elect code) standards on renovations/repairs. . . . Thus, if entire elect/fire control room is gutted/replaced then all rooms’ receptacles, fixtures, elevators, laundries . . . etc. must be replaced to meet current NEC also. I doubt you can ‘scab on’ new equipment to decades old equipment on a major renovations. Would you trust it? You can’t make this type of systemic overhaul while residents stay in their unflooded upper floor apts. Unfortunately, for their safety they must be moved ASAP. The existing lights and limited A/C are being run off of generators. You can’t run a hi-rise indefinitely on generators. God forbid a fire breaks out or an elevator fails due to faulty electrical system. Help is needed now finding affordable & safe housing, transport, and followup assistance. Hard enough in ‘normal’ times but that much more difficult post-Harvey.” [Steve, commenting on Residents of 2100 Memorial Senior Highrise Now Have 5 Days To Move Out of Their ‘Uninhabitable’ Apartments] Photo: 2100 Memorial

06/06/16 5:30pm

Flooding along FM 521, Brazoria County, TX 77515

Fort Bend County Boil Notice Area, June 6Residents of the Rio Brazos area near Cumings Rd. north of Rosharon are being advised as of this afternoon to boil their tap water until further notice, while the Fort Bend County Fresh Water Supply District 2 sorts out possible problems stemming from a flood-related loss of water pressure in the network. (The map included here has been added to the Fort Bend County emergency office’s Facebook page following a brief online outpouring of confusion as to what neighborhoods the warning was actually targeting.)

Meanwhile, TXDOT is still listing dozens of miles of roadways as covered by to high water as of this morning, with more closures expected as Brazos floodwaters drain southwest toward Angleton and Freeport. Here’s Brazoria County’s latest worst case scenario potential floodmap, with the county’s mandatory evacuation zones now stretching across more than 15 miles from roughly Brazos Bend State Park to the outskirts of Angleton:

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Water, Water Everywhere
02/11/16 3:15pm

Harvest Moon Solar Farm, FM 3013 at Gebhardt Rd., Sealy, TX 77474

Harvest Moon Solar Farm, FM 3013 at Gebhardt Rd., Sealy, TX 77474These crop duster-height shots of 12 acres of solar paneling were snagged above FM 3013 half a mile south of Gebhardt Rd., where Harvest Moon Renewable Energy Company is getting ready to bring its juice to market in Sealy and Houston areas served by CenterPoint Energy. According to a fresh-from-the-farm press release, the plant’s 15,000-and-then-some solar panels, blossoming on the end of more than 1,000 steel posts, should produce around 2.5 million kilowatt-hours of power each year (bundled into the 952 million kWh the EPA says Houston uses annually). MP2 Energy will take care of the actual selling, and plans to fill in the gaps from the solar supply with power bought from other renewable sources.

Harvest Moon’s president Joey Romano, who previously developed the solar-focused Mirabeau B. apartments on Waugh at Hyde Park, is now running the operation with founder and CEO Joe Romano, formerly CEO of Contango Oil & Gas and CFO of Zilhka Energy. The company plans to allow customers to tour the family farm, but you can also watch the panel crop grow online — the company took a time-lapse video of the 120-day installation, which wrapped up late last year:

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Fresh from the Photovoltaic Module
02/10/16 9:45am

CITY OF HOUSTON WATER UTILITIES WEBSITE HACKED OVER THE WEEKEND Hacked City of Houston water utilities webpageA reader sends a screenshot of the Houston water utilities customer service website as it appeared around 1 AM on Sunday. A source working for the city confirms that the page was briefly redecorated over the weekend; the hack was reported around 5:30 AM that Sunday and resolved later that morning. Prior to discovery of the switchup, all links to city information and services were replaced by a black screen that appeared to spin into place, containing only the graphic shown here, a few online handles taking credit for the takeover, and a short message taunting the site’s administrators. A cached version of the nonfunctional but admittedly edgier homepage was still accessible through a Google search for the page as late as yesterday afternoon. Screen capture: Swamplot inbox

07/16/15 4:00pm

THE PARTS OF TOWN WHERE THOSE STREETCORNER MINI MURALS ARE POPPING UP Mini Mural by 2:12, Stella Link at Latma Dr., Woodside, HoustonIf you’re wondering where you can find more of those painted-over traffic signal control boxes —- like the one pictured here, which just appeared at the corner of Stella Link and Latma Dr. in Woodside — there’s a . . . website for that. UP Art Studio, the mural project’s instigators, has pics up of more than 2 dozen of the altered streetcorner cabinets colorfully transformed by artists so far, as well as an interactive map for scouting them out. The project is restricted (so far, at least) to the southwest part of town inside the Beltway. In all, 14 artists have been commissioned to reimagine 31 metal boxes. [UP Art Studio] Photo: 2:12

07/06/15 3:45pm

NEW IPHONE APP BUGS YOU WHEN IT’S TIME TO TAKE OUT THE TRASH, BUT REFUSES TO DO IT FOR YOU Screenshot of Rollout! HoustonA local CTO who knows his way around iOS programming but had trouble at first figuring out what day the garbage trucks are supposed to come by is behind a simple app that became available on Apple’s App Store just last week. Kenton Gray’s Rollout! Houston was one of the winners of the citywide Hackathon in May. The free program can’t help you lift or pull bins or navigate a path from back yard to front yard around your lot-filling townhouse, but it does do one thing well: inform you of the next pickup day for garbage, recycling, and heavy trash for whatever City of Houston location you’re in. Oh, and then it does one more thing: It lets you set reminders for each. [Houston Chronicle; App Store link]

06/09/15 11:30am

SEWAGE NOW FLOWING PROPERLY UNDER GULF FWY. AGAIN Repaired Sewer Line Under Gulf Fwy. at Brays Bayou, East End, HoustonThat pipe break spotted underneath an I-45 South overpass leaking what appeared to be raw sewage onto a concrete path adjacent to Brays Bayou last week has now been repaired — or at least covered with a new sleeve. A photo of the fix also shows flood-remnant bouquets still intact along the pipe’s length at the bayou crossing south of Idylwood and just east of Telephone Rd. Photo: Allyn West

06/04/15 5:00pm

Leaking Pipe Under Gulf Fwy. at Brays Bayou, Sylvan Dell, East End, Houston

There’s a busted pipe hanging under the Gulf Fwy. overpass as it crosses Brays Bayou, just east of Telephone Rd. and south of Idylwood in the East End. The pics shown here were taken late yesterday afternoon, though some sort of liquid had been seen dripping from the break at various points over the weekend.

Grassy remnants of last week’s high water on Brays Bayou can still be seen hanging from various points along the pipe’s length:

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Leftovers
06/03/15 3:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WILL THE NEW BIKE TRAIL SYSTEM BE THIS SHOCKING? Biking Along a Powerline Easement“Here’s something a little off topic but has to do with putting trails on power easements. Has anyone ever experienced what happens when you ride under the lines down the dirt road in Memorial Park? The electromagnetic field actually shocks you where you are touching the frame or handlebars especially during peak Summer usage hours and when sweaty. Not sure if that’s ever been addressed.” [j, commenting on FPSF Moving Next to the Astrodome; I-10 Toll Hike Delay; Secrets of the I-45 Redo Plan] Illustration: Lulu

04/06/15 1:45pm

Driveway and Utility Pole, 2115 Taft St., Montrose, Houston

A couple of readers have sent in pics of the curious driveway installation at 2115 Taft St. just south of Welch St. just over the eastern border from Montrose, on the former site of the Taft St. Coffee House and Ecclesia Church. The utility pole dates from the lot’s former inhabitants; the courteous flatwork has been built around it for later patching. “In case you are wondering,” writes one of our tipsters, “the space on either side is not wide enough for a car to pass, nor does the driveway go all the way through to the next street.”

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The Townhomes Are Coming
09/10/14 1:15pm

A LOOK AT SOME OF THE LIQUID POO FLOWING ONTO COLQUITT ST. IN MONTROSE Raw Sewage Draining onto Colquitt St., Montrose, HoustonA reader wants to be sure Swamplot readers are alerted — as city inspectors, the HPD’s environmental division, and the property manager have already been, the reader says — to the “recurring” problem of raw sewage flowing out from the Takara-So Apartments at 1919 W. Main St. and into neighboring storm drains. The photo at left, taken on Monday, shows the sewage (“you can smell it”) along Colquitt St., pausing for a bit of sun on its way to lower-lying bayous and waterways. [Previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox

08/19/14 1:15pm

Substation Expansion, 612 Yale St., Houston Heights

Without making a big alert-the-neighbors fuss about it, CenterPoint Energy appears to have begun expanding the electrical substation across the street from the new Alexan Heights apartment complex going up on Yale St. into an adjacent vacant lot, a reader reports. Crews began breaking up the 6,600-sq.-ft. lot’s concrete surface yesterday. CenterPoint has owned the lot at 612 Yale St. since 2004, according to county tax records, though the neighboring 6th and Yale Collision and Repair shop had often used it as parking space.

The lot appears at the top center of this recent aerial view of apartment construction and the substation:

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Not Shocking
06/02/14 10:30am

HIGH VOLTAGE NEWS FOR HOUSTON BICYCLISTS Bike Trail Along Transmission Line Right of Way, Brays Bayou, HoustonParks and Rec department director Joe Turner tells the Chronicle‘s Mike Morris that a powerline right-of-way crossing on University of Houston property northeast of the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Old Spanish Trail will be the first improvement allowed by a new agreement between the city and CenterPoint Energy (subject to city council approval this week) that will allow hike-and-bike trails to be cut along electrical transmission-line right of ways throughout the city. Most likely the next up, according to Turner: a trail from Sims Bayou to Cambridge Village Park in southwest Houston. That route, along with others being contemplated, runs north to south. As Mayor Parker noted in her announcement, that should complement the bayou-side (and therefore mostly east-west) trails being created as part of the Bayou Greenways 2020 project. CenterPoint is donating $1.5 million toward the creation of new trails on their property, possibly because it got what it wanted in the deal, which also involves the conversion of all 165,000 city traffic signals to LEDs over the next 5 years. Writes Morris: “Bills to allow trails on utility right of way were filed as early as 2007 but stalled over questions about how much liability CenterPoint should face in opening its land for recreational use. A compromise was reached last year. The utility is liable only for a serious injury or death caused by its ‘willful or wanton acts or gross negligence.’ Under the agreement announced Friday, the city would pay the utility’s legal bills if lawsuits are filed.” [Houston Chronicle ($); more info; previously on Swamplot] Photo of bike trail along Brays Bayou: Dave Fehling/State Impact

02/11/14 2:00pm

Poor Farm Ditch Restrictor, Holcombe Blvd. at Edloe St., West University, Texas

Poor Farm Ditch Restrictor, Holcombe Blvd. at Edloe St., West University, Texas. . . Well, at least as long as Brays Bayou is able to handle whatever rains come. Late last month, an excavator (pictured above) yanked out the last piece of a 3-year-old 6-ft.-by-6-ft. concrete panel used as a “restrictor” and meant to make sure rainwater that fell in West U stayed in West U for a good long time. The restrictor (shown in place blocking the right side of the drainage channel pictured at left) had been put in place by the Harris County Flood Control District after West U, working with the city of Southside Place and Metro, completed $8 million worth of drainage improvements in 2010 on the colorfully named Poor Farm Ditch, which drains along the east side of Edloe St. through much of West University and further south to Brays Bayou. Those improvements had been meant to solve West U’s frequent flooding problems. But without some place for the water to go, that solution for West U might have caused flooding elsewhere downstream. So the district placed the restrictor on Poor Farm Ditch on the south side of the Edloe St. bridge across Holcombe St. — until the city could somehow come up with 13.5 acre-ft. of flood detention to hold the runoff.

With flood improvements completed but the restrictor still causing water to back up on Poor Farm Ditch, West U flooded again in January 2012 after a hard rain.

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The Rich Floodwaters of Poor Farm Ditch